Action Alert: Palestine – Write letters calling for the release of Mahmoud Sarsak

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Mahmoud_Sarsak

Palestinian national team footballer detained without trial for three years.

1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter

1. Summary

Mahmoud Sarsak has been on hunger strike in an Israeli prison for 89 days and is near death. Sarsak has been detained without charge for three years.  He was arrested under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002.

Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt asking for the British government to act now in securing the release of Mahmoud Sarsak.

2. Background

A professional footballer representing the Palestinian national team; Mahmoud Sarsak has been on hunger strike in an Israeli prison for 89 days and is near death. Sarsak has been detained without charge for three years.  He was arrested under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002.
 
Sarsak, a member of the Palestinian national soccer team, was arrested on 22 July 2009 at the Erez crossing on his way to join the Balata football club in Nablus. Since being arrested Sarsak has not been allowed to speak with his family, as Israel prohibits security prisoners from using the telephone. Sarsak’s family has not been able to visit as Israel has prohibited family visits for all prisoners from the Gaza Strip.

According to the Israeli government he is an illegal combatant and therefore they can imprison him indefinitely.
 
To protest against his condition and lack of civil liberties, Sarsak currently is on a hunger strike. The 25-year old footballer has not eaten for 89 days and has lost approximately thirty kilos in weight. According to human rights organisation Addameer, the Mahmoud’s situation is critical.
 
IHRC is deeply concerned about Sarsak’s health and about his imprisonment, and therefore asks for his immediate release from jail.
 
3. Action Required

IHRC encourages everyone to write a letter (model letter below) to Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt asking for the British government to act now in securing the release of Mahmoud Sarsak.

4. Sample letter
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Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

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a) Rt Honourable Jeremy Hunt MP, British Member of Parliament.

Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt MP,
2 Royal Parade,
Tilford Road,
Hindhead,
Surrey,
GU26 6TD.

Email: huntj@parliament.uk

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Date]

Dear Mr Hunt,

Re: Detention without charge or trial of Mahmoud Sarsak, Palestinian footballer.

We ask your help in securing the release of Mahmoud Sarsak. A member of the Palestinian national team, Mahmoud Sarsak, has been imprisoned for three years without trial by the Israeli government. To protest against his condition and lack of civil liberties, Sarsak is on a hunger strike.
 
The 25-year old footballer has not eaten for 89 days and has lost approximately thirty kilograms in weight. According to human rights organization, Addameer, the situation of Mahmoud is critical and he faces risk of death at any time.

On 22 July 2009, Sarsak - who lives in Rafah in the Gaza Strip - was arrested at a checkpoint when he was on his way to the West Bank for a match with his national team. He was interrogated for thirty days and then imprisoned without trial or a precise legal charge. Family and friends are not allowed to visit him. They do not know why he is being detained for already nearly three years.
 
At a time when the UK is to host an international sporting event, we ask the UK government to intervene and secure the release of an innocent man whose passion was to play football for his nation.  His only crime seems to be that he is playing for the nation of Palestine. 

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your name]

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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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